Focus on rural tourism: Masidi

Kota Kinabalu: State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun said his Ministry will be focusing on rural tourism next year.

“It is my hope that the Chief Minister’s intention in the 2018 State Budget to focus on rural tourism will become a reality next year.

“I am confident that we in Sabah have an excellent tourism product. We want the community in the rural areas to also enjoy the spill-over from the tourism industry.

“We don’t want those in the urban areas, hotels and airlines only to profit but also those in the rural areas.

There is an interest from foreign tourists to go to the rural areas in the State to enjoy the tourism attractions there,” he said to reporters at the 11th Sabah Tourism Awards, here, Saturday.

He also took the opportunity to acknowledge the people at Kadamaian in Kota Belud who built their tourism industry from scratch without or little assistance.

“I have given special mention (Ministers Special Award) to the Kadamaian Tourism Association Sabah (Kata) to emphasise that focus. We found that we have achieved a good level tourism wise in the urban and city areas and that there is also a need to focus on rural tourism.

“What made me happy is that the local people themselves were actively involved in promoting rural tourism products,” he said, adding that up to September, the Kadamaian people had earned up to RM500,000 and that they had fully embraced technology to promote their destination. Masidi also announced that there will be direct commercial flights between Kota Kinabalu and Beijing latest by early next year.

“I have spoken to the Consul General of China, Liang Caide, and he informed me that he is arranging to have direct flights between Beijing and Kota Kinabalu.

“This is good news for me as it reflects the confidence of Chinese government in our capabilities to give the best service to Chinese tourists,” he said, adding that the route which would be facilitated by Xiamen Airways was under discussion. “This will happen perhaps before end of the year or early next year.”

Masidi also urged banks to facilitate investment in hotel construction, especially four and five-star hotels, to cater to the rising number of Chinese tourists amid concerns raised over the availability of accommodation with more tourists expected from Beijing.

“We are running out of hotel rooms, so while I am very happy that the Chinese government is trying its best to help us to get direct Beijing-Kota Kinabalu flight service, at the same time, I am also quite apprehensive if we have enough rooms to cater to their demands.

“My message is to all investors and banks, please facilitate the investment in hotels, especially four and five-star hotels, as there is a real need for them.” Masidi said as of October this year, Sabah has welcomed 363,977 tourists from China. He said 2016 was an outstanding year for tourism in Sabah with total arrivals of 3.427 million.

“That year, we surpassed the results for 2013, known as the ‘best year in tourism’.

“This year up to last October, we have recorded 2,929,181 arrivals or an 11.8 per cent increase compared to the same time last year.

“From January to October, over a million international tourists (1,004,354) have visited Sabah, up 7.67 per cent compared to last year. Domestic arrivals have reached 2,011,258 (up 10.5 per cent).

“So far, tourism receipts have been estimated at RM6.396 billion, a robust nine per cent growth compared to the same period last year. That’s around more than half a million ringgit extra income earned for Sabah this year.

He said Kota Kinabalu international Airport (KKIA) is the second busiest airport after KLIA, serving 171 international and 410 domestic nights weekly.

“We are connected to 16 international destinations brought in by 13 foreign airlines, the busiest route coming from 84 nights from China and 35 nights from Korea weekly.

“In a few weeks (December 20), a new airline, Batik Air (lndonesia) will commence direct Jakarta -Kota Kinabalu flights. It will be the 14th international airline served by KKIA.

“For the next quarter next year, Kota Kinabalu will be connected to three more Chinese cities.

Chengdu, Changsha and Tianjin. What used to be charter flights coming from these three cities will now be scheduled flights, showing that the routes have ‘matured’.

He said up to October, 190 charter flights from Northern Asia (China, South Korea, Taiwan, Japan) arrived in KKlA.

“The cruise season have started. Last week over 3,000 passengers from the European cruise arrived at our port in Kota Kinabalu. We are expecting three more cruises up to the year-end or a total of at least 10,000 more arrivals from all over the world.

“If we continue with this trend, we could exceed the targeted 3.55 million this year with total arrivals estimated between 3.6 -3.7 million. That could very well be the best achievement in history.”

On the Sabah Tourism Award 2017, Masidi said he was happy with it, adding the biennial awards was important to appreciate all tourism players and a testimony they had played their role to help boost the industry.

Among the winners for this year were Ministers Special Awards (Robert Lo and Kadamaian Tourism Association Sabah), Best Tourism Attraction (Borneon Sun Bear Conservation and Mari Mari Cultural Village, Excellence in Hotel Services: (Shangrila Rasa Ria, Ming Garden Hotel, Hotel Sixty3, Borneo Nature Lodge, Koposizon Homestay Papar, Sipadan Mabul Resort Water Bungalow), Best Inbound Tour Operator: (Amazing Borneo Tours and Events ), Best Inbound Tour Package (3D2N Bird Watching Kinabatangan-Kinabatangan Jungle Camp), Best Tour Guide: Napoleon Dimus (Borneo Rainforest Lodge), Most promising Tour Guide: Mohd Shirou (S.I. Tours), Best Food Outlets: Naan- flavours of India, Shangrila Rasa Ria and Hokkaido Sakagura Restaurant, Best Shopping Complex: Imago, Best Night Spot Experience: (Shamrock Irish Bar), Best SPA Reflexology: (Helen Beauty Reflexology and CHI, The Spa Shangrila Tg Aru) , Best Airline Partners: (China Southern Airlines, Eastar Jet, Spring Airlines, Airasia), Best Community Based Tourism Initiative (Rural): (Padas Farmstay Tenom -TYK Adventure Tours), Best Golfing Experience: (Dalit Bay Golf and Country Club). – Neil Chan


Source: Daily Express